Total distance: 20.4 km. Estimated hiking time: 5 hours.
Beginning the trail and bus trek to Rüdersdorf for the 9th stage I felt sad. It had been almost 4 months since KS and I had done the last trail, which I’m now seeing doesn’t have a post to link to… hmmm I’ll have to come back to that later. But as I was saying, she and I had spent nearly 75 hours over the last six months hiking more than 200 kilometers. We had seen half of the loop together from Potsdam to Rüdersdorf, and now I was doing one step without her.
Loneliness blanketed over me. It was fall now, the warm swampy days of summer we’d hiked through last were over. Heading out to a new trail head alone felt like betrayal. Like I was taking something that should be shared.
The cold wet air and decaying fall leaves on the ground with a grey wintery sky was fitting. I thought doing the hike would help occupy my mind and avoid thinking about the void, but on the last stretch of the bus ride to Rüdersdorf I just wished my hiking partner was sitting with me, sharing the views of beautiful Brandenburg in fall.
And then… I was in Rüdersdorf. Passing by the crappy asian restaurant we’d eaten at after finishing the last trail so long ago. As the bus pulled up to the stop, I could see a 66 Lakes Trail marker. This gave me some comfort, I hoped the rest would be marked well.
Strolling down off the main road, I realized I’d forgotten how beautiful Rüdersdorf is. A town on the canals. It’s like the Venice of Brandenburg. The trail quickly led over to Kalksee and followed the lakes edge. As I made my way up the lake I was soon following behind an older couple. Walking behind them I watched, it was like following the Ghosts of KS and I from the future. The vision of one happy existence we might have had haunting me.
Thankfully, my thoughts started to move to more pleasant topics. Walking along the oddly named Kalksee I looked at all the docks stretching out into the lake from the shore, imagining the summer in this place. Families picnicking, dogs running around. Young couples having romantic moments and going swimming. The summer had passed so quickly it seemed. It probably didn’t help that we were off galavanting around Montenegro, Ireland, and Croatia.
Once the trail reached the end of Kalksee, it flowed over into a larger lake “Flakensee”, the bit of land between them was covered with restaurants, boat houses, and guest houses. The town was called “Woltersdorfer Schleuse”; yet another awesome looking place to come in warmer months to relax.
Past Flakensee, the trail wound it’s way up to another canal where the fall leaves floated in the water and reflections of bright reds and orange from the trees made for some great photography.
The trail between the canal and some smaller lakes was getting kind of muddy, but I was just enjoying the colors and leaves too much. Kayakers and photographers alike were also out taking in the views. All had been going really well up until this point, and thats when the trail got tricky. As sometimes happens, the markers went one way, and the trail from WanderKompass.de went somewhere else. I choose to follow WanderKompass, which I think lost me some time. I ended up taking a huge loop, not seeing any markers for a while, until finally I found myself at the “Fröchebrücke” (Frogs Bridge). What it was, was a bridge for the A10 freeway, with some frog statues lining either side of the canal that flowed beneath them.
There was one problem now, I didn’t see a footbridge. There were trail markers, that was good. But the steps up to the bridge led to gated doors, which apparently entered onto the A10. This didn’t look good. I finally gave up on finding something that made more sense and went to see what the doors to the freeway did.
As you can see from the photos above, this was literally, how you were expected to cross the canal, by entering a small walkway that followed the freeway. So yeah, that was exciting, odd, and scary.
With the trail markers again agreeing with the WanderKompass trail, and the madness at Frog’s Bridge behind, I was happy to be putting the last chunk of the trail behind me. The days are shorter now. It’s late October and I expected the Sun to be setting around 5:30, so while I still had an hour or so of daylight left, and a flashlight in my backpack incase things didn’t go well. I was also eager to wrap it up.
The last section of the trail was pretty much a straight away. But the light was getting really thin, and I decided to use the opportunity to try and snag a couple rich photos. Just before the end, the trail passed what looks like an abandoned lot with some buildings and the remains of salvaged train tracks. The buildings were over grown and rusty, and the fence surrounding the compound was old with barbed wire. I wondered if it was another left over relic of the days of East/West Germany. It wouldn’t be the first time to see something like that.
Minutes pas the compound the single road going through Hangelsdorf appeared, and the train station was right there in the middle of this tiny little town. With just a couple minutes to spare, the train arrived as it got dark out and I was on my way back to Alexanderplatz.